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Thank you for … & You’re welcome in Japanese (NATIVE WAY)

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Thank you for … & You’re welcome in Japanese (NATIVE WAY)

Saying “thank you” is one of the most important and basic things to know
when learning a new language. Yet Japanese is so difficult that I often see
a lot of learners using them wrong. Of course even if the grammar isn’t perfect,
from the attitude, you can tell when someone is truly thankful
but in SMS, messages, it’s very hard to tell that. But don’t worry!
With this guide you’ll be able to properly thank in Japanese.

First of all, there is a huge difference between
informal (casual) speech and formal speech in Japanese.
In English, you can use “Thank you” in both informal / formal situations.
In England you hear cab drivers say “Cheers, mate!” to customers
and the customers say “Cheers, mate” back. Though I like it, it’s too informal in Japan.
In Japan, when you are a customer (客 kyaku),
you’ll be treated like a God and they will speak formally to you.
And although you don’t have to be as formal / polite to them,
you’ll still use the formal speech (e.g. -masu / -desu at the end).


For thanking friends / families, use
= Thank you. / Thanks!

or this is a slang and also not many people use it but my personal favourite :
“ちゅう” is the sound for kiss or mouse so it just sounds cute. Use it jokingly ;)


For thanking strangers / people in higher positions / elders, use
Arigatou gozaimasu

So to cab drivers or employees in convenience store,
use this “ありがとうございます。” – formal one.


Thank you for <noun>. (Informally)
<noun>, arigatou



手紙 / メール / メッセージ、ありがとう。
Tegami /meeru / messeeji, arigatou
= Thank you for the letter / email / message.

Purezento arigatou! Sugoku ureshii
= Thank you for the present! I’m so happy!



Unlike in English, we do NOT put any particle (like “for”).
The common mistake I see is students putting the “を” particle or “が” particle.
But they are unnecessary. And the comma (、 – called “ten”) is optional as well.
You might sometimes see “nounをありがとう” but this is because the verb is actually omitted.
And it is more natural to omit をunless you want a sort of book speech.


However, when you want to say “Thank you for <time> “,
not referring to an actual object, we put the “は (wa) particle“.
Kyou wa arigatou
= Thank you for today!

*I always say this on LINE (an app for texting) after coming home
from hanging out with my friends. Like this :

Kyou wa arigatou! Tanoshi-katta! Mata asob-ou ne
= Thanks for today! It was fun! Let’s hang out again :D


Kinou wa arigatou
= Thank you for yesterday!

Kono mae wa arigatou
= Thanks for the other day! I really appreciate your help!

*”助かった (tasukatta)” literally means “I / it was saved”.
You could translate it as “You saved me / the day” but it can be used like “I appreciate your help”.

Kurisumasu wa arigatou
= Thank you for Christmas!

(meaning “Thank you for what you did on Christmas day,” as the time.)


But if you refer to a specific object like below, you won’t need the particle :
Kurisumasu no purezento, arigatou
= Thanks for the present for Christmas.

Remember, this “arigatou” is only appropriate to use among friends and families.
Don’t say “arigatou” like “cheers / thanks” to employees in a convenience store or taxi drivers.
You will end up sounding very arrogant.


Simply add “ございます (gozaimasu)” at the end.
Doumo arigatou gozaimasu
= Thank you very much.

Be careful! The added “どうも (doumo)” could be used as “thanks”
on its own but it usually sounds quite rude to use.
Older men (women don’t really use) might use this to you, but it doesn’t mean you can use it
as this shouldn’t be used to someone in higher position or older.

And “どうもありがとう (doumo arigatou)” in informal speech can be heard sometimes
but still not as common as just “ありがとう (arigatou)” on its own.
Personally I think it’s much nicer to use
本当に (hontou-ni = really)” instead of “doumo” like this :


Hontou-ni arigatou (gozaimasu)
= Thank you so much!


お手紙 / メール / メッセージ、ありがとうございます。
O-tegami / meeru / messeeji, arigatou gozaimasu
= Thank you for your letter / email / message.

Asides from putting the extra “gozaimasu”, another thing has changed.
– There is “お (o = honorific prefix)” before the word “手紙 (tegami = letter)”.
By adding “お”, it puts the nuance of “your honorable /precious ~”.
(It can be used about your action sometimes too.)
So “tegami” on its own simply means “letter” but “O-tegami” sounds like “your honorable letter”.
You might think it is a bit silly but this little thing is what Japanese people appreciate.
The beauty of the language! :D

To explain this, it will take up the whole article, so I won’t get into this too deeply,
but here’s some useful rule you need to know.

There are two types of honorific prefixes :

お (o) for words written with the kanji of Kun-yomi (Japanese reading).
At least the first kanji in a word has to be kun-yomi.
Words of “KUN + ON” combination uses お.
お名前 (o-namae) = (your) name


ご (go) for words written in kanji of On-yomi (Chinese reading).
Just like お, words of “ON + KUN” combination uses ご.
ご説明 (go-setsumei) = (your / my) explanation

But there are exceptions like
お時間 (o-jikan) = (your precious) time
お電話 (o-denwa) = (your) call
お返事 (o-henji) = (your) reply

And words borrowed from foreign languages like
“メール (email)” cannot be used with these prefixes.

My advice is
“Don’t try to memorize all these things
unless you are advanced in Japanese or learning business Japanese”.


Let’s see them being used in “Thank you ~”.

O-denwa arigatou gozaimasu
= Thank you for calling. (super form.)



Kichou-na go-iken arigatou gozaimasu
= Thank you for your valuable comments / ideas. (lit. Opinion)



In this formal “Thank you”, there is a “past tense” version.
Arigatou gozaimashita

The differences are kind of like
Thank you for ~.
Thank you for having done ~ (the other day).

Most of the time you can just use “ありがとうございます。”
For instance when someone has just done something for you.
Or when you dropped a wallet and someone picks it up for you, you say
Thank you!!


Times when you use “ありがとうございました
is when the business is done, before saying goodbye.
So when you want to thank your teacher at the end of a lesson, you should say

Jugyou arigatou gozaimashita
= Thank you for the lesson (we just had).
Jugyou arigatou gozaimasu
= Thank you (always) for your lessons.

At the end of a tour, after the lecture, what you want to say is also
ありがとうございました。(arigatou gozaimashita).

You also use this past tense version when thanking about
something from the other day / a few days ago / yesterday (etc).

For example,
Senjitsu wa arigatou gozaimashita
= Thank you for the other day.

*In informal speech we use “この前 (kono mae)” or “この間 (kono aida)” instead of this “先日 (the other day)”.


Thank you for <verb-ing>. (Informally)

“TE form + くれて + ありがとう”

The “TE form + くれる” is used when someone does something for you.
Kare wa yurushite-kureta
= My boyfriend (he) forgave me.

“彼は許した。 (Kare wa yurushita)” without the “TE + くれる” does mean “he forgave me”.
But it sounds very plain / robotic.
It’s fine if this is a storyteller’s word but the “me” here wouldn’t say this.
So whenever you appreciate the act of someone done for you, use this “TE + くれる”.


More examples using “TE + kureru”.

Chotto matte-kureru
= Can you wait (for me)?

Mayotte-i-tara, hira-nai hito ga michi wo oshiete-kureta
= A stranger gave me a direction when I was lost.


In order to use the “TE + kureru” in “arigatou”,
you need to turn “kureru” itself into the “TE form”.
So it becomes “~ TE + kure-TE + arigatou”.
= Thank you for helping me / your help!

*From the verb “手伝う (tetsudau = to help)”.

Tokei wo naoshite-kurete-arigatou
= Thank you for fixing my watch!

*From the verb “直す (naosu = to fix / correct)”.

“直してくれてありがとう (naoshite-kurete-arigatou)”
can be used to thank for someone correcting your Japanese too!
So try this one when someone leaves a correction in your entry :)

machigai wo naoshite-kurete arigatou
= Thank you for correcting my mistakes!

You’ll also see “添削してくれてありがとう (tensaku shite-kurete arigatou)”.
“添削する (tensaku suru)” is just a formal way to say “to correct (words)”.

Setsumei-shite-kurete arigatou
= Thank you for explaining!

*From the verb “説明する (setsumei suru = to explain)”.

oshiete-kurete arigatou
= Thank you for telling me! / teaching me!


hanashi wo kiite-kurete arigatou
= Thank you for listening to me. / my story / what I said.


Matte-kurete arigatou
= Thanks for waiting!

*From the verb “待つ (matsu = to wait)”.
Yuuhan ogotte-kurete arigatou
= Thank you for (treating me) dinner!

*From the verb “おごる (ogoru = to treat / pay for somebody)”.


*Warning – it’s not going to be easy!!!*
“TE form + いただき or いただいて + ありがとうございます” (more common)
“TE form + くださり or くださって + ありがとうございます”

Oshiete-itadaki arigatou gozaimasu
= Thank you teaching / telling me.

Japanese formal speech is ridiculously difficult
and you’ll have to change some verbs to make it formal.
So “Thank you for looking ~” would not be
(Mite-itadaki arigatou gozaimasu)”

Goran itadaki arigatou gozaimasu
This is because some verbs have their own “humble”, “respectful” forms
and change depending on the situations.

Although the one above is correct, people do say
“見てくださりありがとうございます (mite-kudasari arigatou gozaimasu)”
as “Thank you for looking ~” when it doesn’t have to be too formal.

More examples :
O-kai-age-itadaki arigatou gozaimasu
= Thank you for your purchase. / Thank you for shopping with us.

Again, this is really really difficult to memorize it all at once
so you need to get used to it by actually reading and hearing formal stuff.


Times when we don’t even thank
(The power of BOW)

Japanese people aren’t very good at talking to strangers in public,
so sometimes we find it weird to say the long phrase
“arigatou gozaimasu” to strangers for doing something small.

They might not thank you for opening / holding doors every time
as it’s a bit strange to shout “arigatou gozaimasu!” behind someone’s back.

Of course if you carried a heavy suitcase for someone, that person should thank you.
But for example, if someone kept the elevator door open, you probably just bow at the person.
Also it’s not very common to thank employees in cash register in a supermarket or a convenience store.
They will say “thank you” for shopping, not you thanking them for working. You can just simply bow.

When someone gives a compliment, it’s better to be humble.
I had a very hard time changing my attitude abroad as when I was in Japan,
I was brought up to be humble and whenever someone gave me a compliment,
I said “No, no that’s not true…”.

My experience :
In Russia
Me 「ナターシャ、本当にかわいいね!」
Natasha, hontou-ni kawaii ne
Natasha 「ありがとう!」
= Me “You look so pretty!”
Natasha “Thanks!”

It’s fine because I really thought she was pretty
but I was a bit shocked how she didn’t say “No, that’s not true!” like Japanese girls.

In Japan

Me 「ゆき、本当にかわいい!」
Yuki, hontouni kawaii!
Yuki 「いや、そんなことない。まじでブスだから。みさの方がかわいいよ。」
Iya, sonna koto nai. Maji-de busu dakara. Misa no hou ga kawaii yo
= Me “Yuki, you are really pretty, you know that?”
Yuki “No, that’s not true. I’m seriously ugly. You are cuter.”

Not only will they will deny that, they even compliment you back for some reason.
So please don’t get annoyed when they don’t take the compliment straight.
This is what we think polite.



“Sorry” instead of “Thank you”

It’s very common to use “sorry (=すみません sumimasen)” as “thank you” in Japanese.
Or it’s even better to say both like
(sumimasen, arigatou gozaimasu)
It’s used as “Sorry for all your trouble because of me”.
When someone helps me, I feel grateful but at the same time feel bad
because I’m making the person help me.
When someone gets you a gift / souvenir,
you can also use this “Sorry and thank you” to show that you understand
that they took time and chose a gift (which is “troublesome”) for you.

A 「これ、お土産です。よかったらどうぞ。」
Kore, omiyage desu. Yokattara, douzo
B 「すみません、ありがとうございます。
Sumimasen, arigatou gozaimasu

= A: Here is a souvenir for you. Please take it if you’d like.
B: Sorry (for all the trouble you had for me). Thank you.


How to say “You’re welcome”

When I was learning English, the thing I found weird was
how English speakers always said “You’re welcome”, “It’s alright”, “My pleasure”.
Although we do have the word for “You’re welcome“,
which is “どういたしまして(douitashimashite)“, people might not like it.
It can sound like “Yes, I surely deserve to be thanked.“.
Of course if you really did some big favour, you can say it,
but saying this just for opening a window for somebody is a bit strange.
Unless you are a boss or much older than the listener, this “douitashimashite” is not the best option.


In informal speech, it’s quite common to just say
“うん! (un = yup / yeah)” as a response to “ありがとう (=thanks)”.


“いやいや (iya iya = No, it’s nothing)” is also very commonly used.
I personally really like this “いやいや”.


In formal speech, you can say
“いえいえ (iE iE = No, it’s nothing)”.
Again, this is very humble and nice.

If you want to sound more formal, you can for example say
“お役に立てて何よりです。 (o-yaku ni tatete nani-yori desu)”
“お役に立てて幸いです。 (o-yaku ni tatete saiwai desu)”
= I am glad to be of some help.




O-yomi itadaki arigatou gozaimashita
(very form.)
Yonde itadaki arigatou gozaimashita

Yonde kurete arigatou
= Thank you for reading!!!

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Translator / Linguist / Japanese Teacher / Happy World Traveler/ manga, anime, comedy lover. Speaks Japanese, English, Russian and German.


  1. I LOVE this website. Your articles are really long, err nagee xD and informative! I appreciate it. This is a fun way to learn

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